My second trip to Rome allowed me the opportunity to do something a little different. This time I didn’t just spend all my time pigging out on artichokes and gelato. Well I still did, but just 80% of my time maybe.
So I got to do a half-day driving tour with Walks of Italy covering some of the less visited sights in and around Rome. This included the Appian Way – one of the earliest Roman roads of the ancient republic that was used as a main transport route for military supplies. It was constructed by the Roman army in 312BC!
Our meeting point was set as next to a monument at the grand Piazza Venezia. It was only me, Hugo (my friend), and an American couple that day so it was a pretty quiet group although I wished there were more people to talk to!
The highlight of the trip for me was the Appian Way and the aqueducts, which if I remember correctly were the first stops on the itinerary. They were the farthest away from the city.
We got out of the van and put our feet on what to me were the biggest cobblestones I had ever seen!
Our guide explained its history in much detail, most of which haven’t quite stuck with me perhaps because I was distracted by the beauty of the place whilst he was doing so.
I touched one of the stones with my hand. It was cold and.. quite smooth. It made a nice sound against the bottom of my shoes. I liked it.
We didn’t stay there for long before driving another five minutes or so to see The Aqueducts, an ancient water system which is said to be a testament to Roman engineering. Apparently some of these structures are still currently in use although not to full capacity.
The surrounding areas have been made into golf courses and for general recreational use by the public. There were some tennis courts nearby, and lots of people cycling/running nearby. However, we were told that during the night it becomes quite a dodgy place..
Our guide then showered us with lots of interesting bits of information about how the aqueducts were built etc. I don’t remember the facts exactly but I remember being very impressed by the story. Those Romans were clever!
I loved the huge pine trees.
Only in Rome can you have a green open space where you’ll have trees on one side and.. centuries-old artefacts on the other! I wished we given more time here to have a picnic or wander around because it was really a beautiful space.
Back in the city, we made a quick stop to a look through the keyhole of the Knights of Malta compound, not far from the Spanish Steps. Apparently, it’s a thing to do in Rome.
Naturally I was really curious to find out what it was that people queued up to have a glimpse of..
But what a TEASE it was! Because though the keyhole we saw a most pristine garden with perfectly pruned tall bushes on each side, with a view of the dome of St Peter’s Basillica at the end. Unfortunately the latter didn’t photograph well in the bright sunshine that day.
I tried to see if someone would open the door if I banged the door knockers, but it didn’t work. I was reminded that there is no entry to this garden for anyone who’s not.. a Knight of Malta, I suppose! haha
The final attraction of note on our driving tour was Janiculum Hill, where a cannon is fired every day at noon in the direction of Tiber. I think it just marks the time, but I had never seen a real cannon being fired before so it was pretty exciting, especially when it went all smoky!
Of course there is also the magnificent view of Rome..
Overall I enjoyed this tour, although really the main attraction in Rome to me will always be the artichokes 🙂
Things I liked about this tour
I got to see some real ‘off the beaten path’ stuff
The Aqueducts Park (my favourite on the itinerary)
The very friendly guide
Things I did not like about this tour
A lot of sitting in the van
Not much activity besides following and listening
You can book this driving tour yourself via Walks of Italy for €64 per person!